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Entries in Perspective (4)

Thursday
Jun292017

5 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Victories

Victories don't just happen. In this Victory UPGRADE, Dawn shares five ways to set yourself up for some fresh victories!

When I met Joni Eareckson Tada, I was overwhelmed with the sense that this woman is not a victim, in spite of her quadriplegia. She is a victor! Likewise, Nick Vujicic, a man without limbs, has the mindset and makes the choices that set him apart as a victor in Christ.

I can't tell you the times I've nearly wept, realizing how petty my struggles are compared to theirs. But the same truths that have enabled these victors to rise above their trials are available to me.

As Nick says, "If you can't get a miracle, become one."

I've always loved that exciting moment when runners "set up" in their lanes at the starting block to run a race. To be a victor, we need to intentionally set ourselves up for the victories we so desire.

Here are the five ways I'm learning to set myself up for fresh victories.

1. Set Your SPIRIT

The first thing to acknowledge is our utter incapability to fix ourselves.

Without Christ, we are lost and struggling sinners. But in Christ, the possibilities for change are endless! The Father is making believers like His Son through the power of the Holy Spirit!

To pursue victory, we must first set our spirit on the Spirit.

Knowing we are "crucified with Christ" and that now Christ lives in us, we determine to "live by faith in the Son of God." And how do we do that? We learn to "walk in the Spirit"—to keep in step with Him—so we will not gratify our fleshly desires. We "sow" to the Spirit if we want to cultivate a life of victory over sin.

We lose many battles because we forget our struggle is not a simple flesh-and-blood skirmish. It's a tough, spiritual war. We struggle against powerful forces of evil, and we must go to battle with spiritual, God-supplied weapons.

2. Set Your MIND

Paul told the Colossians to set their minds on "things that are above, not on things that are on earth."

A focus on eternity can help us make better decisions and live a more victorious life.

Sitting in a revival conference many years ago, the evangelist's words stirred my heart: "There are only two things you can take with you to heaven," he said. "Only two things pass from this world into eternity: the Word of God and human souls."

Those words greatly impacted my perspective and priorities. When life is boiled down to those two things, it's remarkable how some choices are simplified and others eliminated.

Christian victors have an eternal perspective.

David Ring, who has cerebral palsy, explains it this way: "I'm still in the oven. God's still in the kitchen, and God's still cooking on me. And when God is finished cooking on me, God is going to pull me out of the oven, and God's going to say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"

David is an example of a believer whose perspective is being transformed by the "renewing" of his mind. Just as we are to walk in the Spirit, we're also to set our minds on the things of the Spirit.

A person's mindset colors responses to life's circumstances.

While we may legitimately be victims of others and need to learn new ways to respond to our pain, in many cases, our victimization comes from within. We may be labeling ourselves as victims as an excuse not to change, or to receive pity from others.

Our focus makes a huge difference. For instance,

  • Victims focus on losses, while victors realize the "gain" possible in tough circumstances.
  • Victims see people conspiring against them; but victors realize we are all sinners and we're likely to wound each other as we rub shoulders--so they learn to forgive and give grace.
  • Victims wear themselves out trying to achieve elusive approval and contentment. Victors have learned to live for an audience of One.

So set your mind on heaven and the things of the Spirit, and you'll escape a lot of "victimhood."

3. Set Your AFFECTIONS

It's not only the mind that needs setting. While charging his son Solomon to build the temple, King David told the leaders of Israel, "Now set your mind and heart to seek the LORD your God" (1 Chronicles 22:19a).

David, who had a heart for God, took time in the fields as a shepherd boy to develop his heart relationship with God; and God used these experiences to develop David's character and leadership skills. Though he made foolish choices in his later life, he always deeply honored and loved the Lord.

Jesus encouraged His disciples to set their affections when He said: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart...." It's a choice.

4. Set Your BODY

Along with setting our mind, Paul, in Rom. 12:1, appeals to believers to "present" their bodies to the Lord as "a living sacrifice." He also speaks of yielding our bodies as tools of righteousness. That's an intentional decision—to set our bodies before the Lord and allow Him to use us.

Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we are to honor God with our bodies, and bring Him glory with our actions in the body.

5. Set Your GOALS

When we have given God our spirit, mind, affections and body, we are ready to set some goals.

The Bible gives us a balanced view of goal-setting. We're to make plans, but to plan with humility and seeking God's wisdom and will.

When making any goals, be sure your priorities are biblical. Don't worry; seek and trust the Lord

We certainly don't honor God with laziness. He expects us to use His wisdom and be diligent so we be can be successful. That doesn't mean we can be presumptuous either! James says it's better to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

Set your goals, but know the Lord is sovereign and He may change your plans.

We live in a fallen world. We will not be perfect until heaven. But we can't make excuses and coast spiritually.

Intentional, biblical choices will encourage more and more victories!

So, are you all "set" for victories? Which of these "sets" needs a little tweaking today?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Morguefile.

Tuesday
Apr072015

Look Up!

Ava Pennington is an author and speaker with a strong focus on the practical applications of God's Word. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she encourages us to think about our perspective.

“Look where you’re going!” My mother’s words echo in my memory," Ava said. "I had my share of scraped knees as a child, often because I did not look where I was going."

Do you hear those motherly words echoing in your thoughts too? I (Dawn) can't tell you how many times I heard them, usually after I took a tumble. (One of my nicknames in high school was "Klutz-illa." But I digress.)

Ava continues . . .

“Look where you’re going” is good advice. Whether hiking through a forest or setting budget goals to manage my finances, it helps to be aware of where I am and where I want to be.

But sometimes I can be too focused on my goals.

When I’m hurting, I tend to concentrate on the pain or focus on what I think might bring relief.

I’m often like the invalid described in John’s gospel. This man sat in a crowd by a pool believed to have restorative powers. The disabled and infirm anxiously waited for the water to stir. Tradition held that when an angel moved the water, the first person in the pool would receive miraculous healing.

I can only imagine the intense focus of each person’s gaze. Watching for even the smallest ripple, waiting . . . yearning . . . desperate for relief.

But in order to watch the water, they needed to keep their gaze lowered. They were limited by their physical condition, but also limited by a perspective that always had them looking down.

Until Jesus entered the picture.

“Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6) A simple question with an obvious answer. But this invalid was so focused on what he thought was the solution that he failed to recognize the One who was the real solution. Instead of answering the question, he provided excuses for why he could not be healed.

“Sir, I have no one to help me . . . .” (John 5:7)

Looking up is not just a physical posture, it’s a spiritual posture as well.

How often do we focus on our problems or pursue wrong choices for relief? We compound our suffering because we do not look up. We fail to include Jesus in the equation.

Looking up may not immediately change our physical condition. It may not ever change our circumstances. But it will help us maintain an eternal perspective.

I’ve found that looking up requires me to:

1. Be intentional about what I allow to consume my thoughts.

The apostle Paul counseled: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).

2. Choose to trust God regardless of my circumstances.

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).

3. Repeat these two steps again and again!

Practice may not make perfect, but it helps us establish God-honoring habits. Paul wrote, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9 NIV).

“Look where you’re going!” was, indeed, good advice. I just need to remember the eternal component and view my circumstances with my heavenly Father’s perspective. For that, I really do need to keep looking up!

On what do you focus during your trials? Are you concentrated on what you think are the answers to your problems? Look up! Whether or not Jesus changes your physical situation, He will uphold you through it and give you an eternal perspective.

Ava Pennington’s newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Kay Arthur, founder of Precept Ministries. She has also written numerous magazine articles and is a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers (AWSA) and the Christian Authors Network (CAN). Ava also teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. She is a passionate speaker who engages audiences with relevant, enjoyable presentations. Visit her at AvaWrites.com.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Tuesday
Jan142014

Adjusting to Change

Cherri Williamson is a missionary friend who, like most missionaries, has a life shaped by adjustments to change.

“Most of us don’t like change,” Cherri says. “I’ve had to adjust to many changes over the 37 years we served in Indonesia.”

Thirty seven years! When I went on two short-term mission trips, I got just a taste of what Cherri means by that word “adjustment,” so I know her insights are good for all of us ... anywhere!

Cherri continues …

Moving from modern conveniences to a thatched-roof house with dirt floors, a cement “squatty potty,” and no running water or electricity; and from conversing freely to speaking like a two-year-old as I studied two new languages—you’d think I’d now be a change pro! Wrong!

We recently moved to Singapore with its modern conveniences, malls, even Starbucks! But even this change hasn’t been easy.

The Lord reminds me of a few things when I go through these changes, and these reminders might help you too.

1. Don’t look back -“Forgetting what is behind and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Phil. 3:13). When looking at the past with rose-tinted glasses, present circumstances seem lacking. Focusing on the past makes acceptance of new situations difficult. Keep your eyes on the Lord today! 

2. But look back! Do consider how the Lord helped you through past difficulties.  “Remember how the Lord ... led you all the way” (Deuteronomy 8:2). Faithful yesterday, He will be just as faithful today. Remembering “the wonders He has done” (1 Chronicles 16:12) gives confidence He’ll help in every new change. 

3. Accept differences as just “differences,” not inferior or “dumb.” Having just moved to Singapore, I’m adjusting to its myriad regulations. I found myself grumbling, “This is so dumb!” But God is helping me see some benefits of these myriad regulations! (An example: I don’t have to worry about stepping on chewing gum. It’s illegal here!)

4. Ask God to change your perspective. Our first two years in the Indonesian jungle (with no stores or electricity), I complained I was “sick of eating nothing but rice, canned meat and leaves.” I’ll never forget my husband Barrie’s gentle rebuke: “Honey, maybe if you if you referred to them as ‘greens’ instead of ‘leaves,’ it would help you have a better attitude.” He was right.

5. Find your contentment and joy in Christ—not things, people or circumstances.  Missing malls, Mexican food and corporate worship at home have sometimes been sources of discontentment; but being away from family still is the hardest adjustment. I’m learning the “secret of being content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).

When I mutter, “If only ... THEN I would be happy,” my contentment is not in Christ. 

I CAN learn contentment “...through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13) and I CAN choose true joy! “You will ... grant me the joy of Your presence” (Ps. 16:11b NLT). 

6. Focus on the Unchanging: Christ’s presence, His Word, and His love and grace. He’s the same “yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), He will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5b), His grace is always “sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:9), and He will always be faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). 

7. Ask God to make you aware of over-looked blessings. God opened my eyes to see the blessing of living in a country free of religious strife, where I can go out alone in safety, and where great medical help is available. 

8. Delight in things He wants to teach you. In the jungle, God taught me how to can foods and make bread, yogurt, and tortillas, and create jam from unfamiliar tropical fruits. I’d never have learned those things in “civilization.” 

God allows changes into our lives to grow our faith, shake us from complacency and remind us how much we need Him.  

Paul said, “We were under great pressure ... but this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” (2 Corinthians 1:8, 9). An old hymn says, “In every change, He faithful will remain.” Count on it!

Which of these eight “Adjustment Tips” would most help you in your current changing or difficult situation?

Cherri Williamson is a missionary with New Tribes Mission (NTM) and served in Indonesia with her husband Barrie in church planting and Bible translation for 37 years, now in Singapore. She is the mother of two—both missionaries in Indonesia—and the grandmother of seven "perfect" grandchildren.

Image in text adapted, graphic courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Wednesday
Aug072013

See the 'Wows' of This Day

How many "Wow" moments have you seen or experienced already today?

Each of us chooses our perspective on life. We choose our overall worldview, certainly; but also, we choose how we will live based on our worldview.

Long ago, as a homeschool mom, I asked my boys to finish this statement: "Life is a _____." One son had two answers. "Life is a party," he said. "Life is an adventure!" This really didn't surprise me. Those answers reflected his fun, go-getter approach to practically everything.

My other son analyzed the question - so typical of him. He then responded, "Life is a struggle." I felt like I had a little budding philosopher on my hands. But at the time, this son was struggling with some life issues. It took some effort to get him to alter his approach and declare, "Life is a challenge." With his competitive nature, that was a more positive view.

I needed a viewpoint adjustment recently. I was growing weary with some daily concerns, bogged down in the mundane and having a hard time seeing any vision for change. Then a caring Sister-Girlfriend asked,

"Where did you see God's hand today?"

It was a simple question, but oh my, God's Spirit used her question to prick my conscience. I get so self-focused. It's hard to see God's hand when I'm only looking at my own. It's hard to understand God's heart, His thoughts, when I'm constantly turning inward.

I need more upward glances throughout my day. You likely do too.

That day, as I paused to think about the situations troubling me, I did indeed sense the presence of God; and that makes all the difference.

I saw that He was with me in a moment of temptation, giving me grace to do right. He was just as surely with me when I blew it - offering mercy and forgiveness. He was with me when physical pain made me grumpy, showing me how to suffer well (or at least, better). God was with me in moments of frustration, teaching me to believe He is in control; and in a situation I deemed hopeless, encouraging me to trust Him completely.

The more I considered my day, the more I realized I was never alone for one minute - and I saw so many "wows" of God's presence active in my life, the beauty of His provision and the constancy of His care.

We get so caught up in our stuff, don't we? Maybe this is why God calls us to daily, consistent communion with Him. I visited the chair in the photo (above) today in a time of quiet reflection. My Father God wants to "WOW" me with Himself.

How has God "wowed" you with His presence? Take a moment to thank Him.

Dawn Wilson is the founder of Heart Choices Ministries and creator of UpgradeWithDawn.com. Dawn's ministry encourages, edifies and energizes women with the truth of scripture so they can better enjoy life, bless others and honor God.